Before we get started dissecting “Stakeout,” it’s imperative we talk about the cold open. As the episode starts, Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) is excited to receive his medal for the Giggle Pig bust, but he’s even more excited that Madeline Wuntch (Kyra Sedwick) has to give it to him. I’m not sure how far in advance they filmed the scene with Sedgwick — and whether this means she could come back for more — but it was great to see the rivalry between Holt and Wuntch again.
Holt stayed up all night crafting a zinger — “Wuntchtime is over!” — that Jake (Andy Samberg) and Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) convince him not to use and that it would be better to be the bigger person and not say anything at all. When Wuntch puts Holt’s medal around his neck, Holt appears to take their advice. He is perfectly polite and even thanks her, but after a beat, he yells out his zinger then adds, “Boom! Did it! Had it both ways. No regrets.” It’s hands down the greatest moment in “Stakeout,” and when I first watched it, I hoped the episode to follow would live up to its opening. Unfortunately, “Stakeout” is simply a solid episode with some comedic moments but none equal to Wuntch and Holt’s confrontation, though I admit that would be hard to top.
The main plot focuses on Jake and Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) on a stakeout, but the real importance of the plot lies in its exploration of Jake and Boyle’s friendship. The two initially claim they can withstand an eight-day stakeout together with no relief team because they’ve never fought before, but on day two, when Boyle annoys Jake by eating with his mouth open, it’s clear that they’re in over their heads.
Since it’s obvious that Jake and Boyle aren’t going to stop being friends permanently, the success of this plotline ultimately hinges on what we learn about their friendship by the end of the episode. While it’s fun watching the two craft a “no-no list” of things they don’t want the other to do, the riffing eats up a large chunk of the episode. This isn’t necessarily bad since it’s funny, and I assume you’re watching a comedy to laugh. But it does mean the ending, the most important thing about the plot, the thing we’re supposed to learn about Jake and Boyle’s friendship, doesn’t quite stick.
In fact, once the two are out of the small room they were stuck in for the stakeout, they’re largely fine. Sure, they don’t want to talk to each other, but when Boyle gets knocked down by a suspect, Jake is there to back him up. Jake claims this means they’re brothers because they fight but still love each other, which I can definitely buy, but it’s a little undercut by the credits running across the bottom of the screen. This isn’t the first time “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has wrapped an important plotline in the very last possible second, but it’s a tendency the show should start avoiding, as it rushes the episodes’ emotional beats.
Back at the precinct, in the first subplot, Terry (Terry Crews) is making a children’s book for his twins, and Gina (Chelsea Peretti) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) realize the characters in the book look a lot like Terry’s coworkers. Terry acknowledges the fact that the drawings were based on real-life people, but the characters themselves don’t represent real people. As a writer who sometimes uses traits from people I actually know in my characters, I sympathized with him, but luckily no one’s ever been as offended by my work as Gina and Amy are about Terry’s.
Amy says the character based on her is simply a pushover and Gina says her character is “a stone cold bitch,” and they set out to prove that they aren’t as one-dimensional as these characters. It basically amounts to Amy yelling at Terry a lot and Gina claiming she doesn’t judge people. Terry has to set them straight by telling them the resemblance is only on the surface. They then apologize, with Amy explaining the book upset her because she feels she can be too much of a pushover and Gina saying the book convinced her that she’s “perfect the way (she is) and should never change.” It’s not much of a resolution, especially since Terry doesn’t get a chance to respond, but that’s one of the problems of wrapping all three plotlines in the last five minutes of the episode.
The second subplot basically only serves to set up future episodes and plot developments by introducing us to Holt’s nephew Marcus (Nick Cannon), whom Rosa starts dating. While there isn’t much substance to this plot, it’s buoyed by the performances from Braugher and Beatriz. Marcus and Rosa get caught leaving Holt’s house the morning after, and both Holt and Rosa are clearly embarrassed. Rosa leaves as quickly as possible while Holt narrates her leaving: “Wow. Detective Rosa Diaz has left.”
They have an equally awkward meeting at the precinct later when Holt takes off his badge and speaks to Rosa as his friend about his acceptance of her dating his nephew. But what makes the scene is when Rosa says she might want to keep dating Marcus but that she and Holt should never talk about it again. Holt adds they should never talk about anything, and Rosa agrees immediately. This plotline has what the Jake and Boyle plotline was missing: It shows how Rosa dating Holt’s nephew changes the relationship between Holt and Rosa before the two readjust to the new circumstances.
Ultimately, “Stakeout” is a perfectly adequate episode with some good moments — though none as transcendent as the cold open — which is the type of episode that has typified the second season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Since I’m skeptical of awards shows, I doubt this is specifically the reason that the show failed to receive a Golden Globe nomination after its win last year, but it’s something the show should look into. I’m still confident “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and the fact that it will have another season, so I don’t want the first season to be its peak.
Rating: 3.5 stars